Traditional art-mosphere in Delhi

Art aficionados in the National Capital Region (NCR) were able to catch a glimpse of two distinct art forms from the eastern and southern parts of the country recently thanks to Art Lounge Nirvana.
Located in Gurgaon, the lounge has been founded by Aparna Banerjee, a contemporary abstract artist who has represented India in distinct art exhibitions across the globe.
The Art Lounge is her contribution towards creating awareness about the rich and varied canvas of Indian art that has developed through thousands of years. Her aim is to get the modern society to look at what we as a country already possess and to understand, admire and encourage the artists of our land.
Banerjee says: “India is a growing economy and art is and should be available for its beauty and aesthetic value to one and all.”
For this particular exhibition, which was hosted in September, she brought forth the intricate and splendid Kerala Mural Art and the dying ‘batali’ art of Bengal.
Kerala mural paintings are frescos depicting Hindu mythology and legends, which are drawn on the walls of temples and churches across the state.
Visitors to old temples and palaces in Kerala often come across displays of mural paintings.
Mostly dating between the 9th and 12th centuries, the art form flourished owing to royal patronage.
However, this traditional wall art suffered under British rule in India, and was on the verge of extinction.
After India’s independence in 1947, a revival of the traditional mural art of Kerala took place at major temples in the state.
Sanskrit texts discuss in detail the style, effectiveness of different colors, desirable combinations that could be brought out by mixing various pigments and methodology.
The artists whose Kerala mural works are on display at the exhibition are masters of their craft and contribute immensely to keeping this rich tradition alive.
Alex Varghese, who hails from Trichur district in Kerala, completed a four-year BFA degree course in Mural Painting from Shree Shankara Sanskrit University, Kaladi.
By that time, Alex had developed a keen interest in the traditional mural painting of Kerala.
Since then, he has drawn a large number of mural paintings, about 200, which is a matter of great pride.
Alex has become the creator of the largest mural painting on the Church-ceiling, with his painting of St Thomas in Malayattoor Church, Kerala.
His creativity has found expression in a large number of churches.
Sujatha Anilkumar hails from a small village near Kalady in Kerala.
Though she studied Botany in college, she had a strong passion for Fine Arts. She started mural paintings by drawing mainly on garments and canvas.
During this period, she met VA Abhilash and together they started a firm called Vanamali Murals to promote exclusive traditional mural arts.
Sujatha’s strength is in the way she mixes colours for different characters and situations.
The facial and physical expressions of the characters drawn have been much applauded.
Hailing from Kodussery, in Kochi, VA Abhilash studied BFA (mural painting) at Sree Sankaracharya University of Sanskrit, Kalady, and secured first position in his class.
His work has caught the attention of connoisseurs for their depiction of characters, elegance of expressions and selection of colours.
VA Abhilash has completed many mural works across temples. He has also executed elegant mural work at the famous International Centers (didn’t get the meaning here).
The ‘batali’ art of Bengal has been portrayed through the works of Shoma Singh Roy, a partner at Classic Furniture, a branded company.
They have been working on the revival of the dying ‘batali’, a rich artisanal heritage. They have also been exclusively exporting their masterpieces to Europe and have recently started displaying their collection within the country. Their handcrafted designs showcase hand painted furniture and wood finishes.
Present at the inauguration were Britta Knobel Gupta, and Amit Gupta, founders of the architectural firm Studio Symbiosis.
Studio Symbiosis is an architectural & interior design studio based in Delhi, London and Stuttgart., focussing on sustainable and smart buildings.
Key projects from Studio Symbiosis are Double Tree by Hilton Ahmedabad, Double Tree by Hilton Kathmandu, Taj Ahmedabad, Taj Jodhpur, Trans Ganga Masterplan Kanpur, Allahabad Masterplan, Information Directorate headquarters in Lucknow, Punjab Kesari headquarters in Delhi, Design Hotel Rohtak to name a few.

(Report & photographs
contributed by Uttara Ganguly)

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